The "Marlin" from above, the new ship of the Müller / Wnuks
In mid-February the time had finally come. Starting signal for the start of the three-day odyssey, always clockwise along the coast of the South American continent. Intermediate stops: IslTenglo, Puerto Montt, Santiago de Chile, Bogota, Curacao, Suriname. Means of transport: ferry, bus, taxi, truck, plane. In the capital Paramaribo we are greeted by tropical and humid heat and the first of many rain showers. Two suitcases out of 15 fell by the wayside somewhere. Never mind, were just the suitcases with the summer clothes, who needs them at a constant temperature of 28 degrees.
Six hours of sleep the first night must be enough, because the curiosity and worry is great: What does it look like, our new ship? Is it still swimming? Is there water in the bilge? Is it still there at all? Will everyone like it? Nervous tension on the endless taxi ride to Domburg, where the "Stepalah" lies on a mooring buoy.
Domburg? Wait a minute, we used to always camp by the North Sea. But not only the name is reminiscent of earlier summer holidays in Holland, Frikandel speciaal, Vlund Heineken beer are part of the normal range of every supermarket. And the Chinese owner no longer speaks Spanish, but rather Dutch.
The water, however, is clay-colored, cloudy and comes from somewhere in the dense Amazon jungle. And finally there it is, our new home. The children help inflate the dinghy, almost fall into the water as they scramble to get on board and move into their new berths with loud hoots.
Photo gallery: End and new beginning - the successor to the "Iron Lady"
I follow a little more slowly, let my gaze slide over this empty and somehow sterile boat. We've given up a real home, a ship that has our personality in every corner, and now I feel like I'm on an exhibit at the boat show.
But the melancholy moment is over as quickly as it came. What a lot of space do we have all at once! The cockpit is cozy! Look, the stove, three flames, is crazy! And here we could hang our fish fins and here the temple kites from Bali, and when can we pick up the sails, and when do we even sail?
Michael takes a load off his heart, the family is satisfied. Did you do well!
The last modalities of the purchase went smoothly, and the next morning we were back with the key in hand, our key.
We remove the ugly truck tarpaulin from the yacht, start the engine and cut the rope that held it for six years on this mooring in Suriname. No ship, especially not so beautiful, should be here for that long. Five miles upriver is the Waterland Marina, which has everything we need: electricity, water and a wide jetty. The engine cooperates, even the autopilot maintains the course, and our first mooring maneuver also goes smoothly.
With the help of Micha's son Julian, who traveled to Germany extraus, we rush to work. It was clear to us that we had bought a neglected boat that needed a lot of love and affection. But we only become aware of the real extent here. Nature has worked hard to integrate the "Stepalah" into its environment. The entire deck, the standing and moving rigging, the mast, the tree, everything is covered with green vegetation. A bat lives in the aft cabins, hundreds of cockroaches have made themselves comfortable in the bilge, the bottom of the starboard tank is contaminated with diesel bacteria, the mold flourishes in the sails, and from the large tree I get three bird nests and a dead bird.
Our ship is alive, a small microcosm on the Suriname River.
Our biggest problem, however, is the bees. Brazilian killer bees have nested in the upper third of the mast. Of course, they are anything but happy that we want to pull the main halyard, the Dirk and other lines through the mast. Like miniature fighter planes, they shoot together in perfect formations at anyone who dares to disturb them.
Me becomes the first victim, the stings swell to monstrous bumps thanks to a bee venom allergy. The doctor and cortisone are happily on board, but work comes to a standstill. Do not raise the sail, do not clean any other lines with the high-pressure cleaner, braked.
Only an expert can help. At night, in the dark, when the bees are blind and not flying, we win the beekeeper in protective gear into the mast. A couple of lethal syringe shots and it was all over the place. It's a shame about the good honey, we can't get it out of the fattening so easily.
We won't let ourselves get down, we've never done it before. Bit by bit we work through our priority list, interrupted again and again by the downpours, which are actually quite atypical for this time of the year. Trinidad is our destination, 450 nautical miles away. In Trinidad there is everything we need to get the "Stepalah" really fit again. There is nothing in Suriname, nothing beyond the need for small fishing boats.
In Trinidad there is also a new flag and finally the new name, SY "Marlin". The lines are cleaned, the leaky windows sealed, the mast scrubbed, the sails raised, pumps checked and replaced, all the Schapps washed out and filled with the first purchases.
It's a great feeling to see the progress of our work every evening, to see what a few hands and a lot of iron will can do with this neglected boat. It takes two weeks, then we are ready to sail, at least as clear as we can be here in Paramaribo.
Authorities tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow? Out to sea with the "Marlin", into the blue water and the northeast trade wind, the well-deserved reward for six years of slumber.
You can read the blog entries from the crossing of the "Marlin" to Trinidad here.